Joseph A. Dawson, a far-north Chicago suburban businessman was charged following an FBI investigation into his business. According to the FBI, Dawson defrauded 26 investors of $3.7 million dollars using a ponzi scheme.
The Fox Lake, IL, resident was charged with three criminal counts of wire fraud for allegations that he stole more than $1 million of investors’ funds for his own use and then used the investor’s funds to pay returns on investment to other investors. According to prosecutors, monies used to repay others totaled $2.8 million.
Dawson, a commodity futures & securities trader, owned an investment fund called LEAP and Dawson Trading, LLC; his businesses operated in Ingleside, Fox Lake, and Lakemoor. Dawson Trading took over LEAP (founded in 2001), and its customers, in 2004.
From 2004 to September 2009, investigations into Dawson’s business practices revealed that he’d offered and sold approximately $3.7 million shares to 26 clients in promissory notes; the notes supposedly ensured the investments were safe and promised to return as much as 80% of any trading profits earned.
Dawson never invested the funds, instead using investor’s money for personal items, like landscaping, automobiles, and a swimming pool addition for his home. To reassure investors, Dawson lied about their investments, allegedly creating & distributing fraudulent statements showing gains.
Wire fraud carries maximum penalties of 20-years in prison and $250,000, plus restitution. Courts may also impose fines doubling the victim’s loss, or twice the the defendant’s gain, whichever amount is greater.